Dou Xiao‘s SHAOLIN WARRIOR (2013) serves as an example of how NOT to make a martial arts film. It does not hide its campiness and seems to enjoy being over the top in ridiculousness in terms of plot, acting, and fight choreography. Low budget period dramas must be popular in some distant or minute fan base because Shaolin Warrior seems to be an opportunity to “cash in” on a genre attempt. There are no likable characters the “action” sounds spewed from the warrior caste quickly became mundane and cringe worthy.
Fang Lei/Yao Hanwu is a young man who wants to escape his criminal past and make amends by becoming a Shaolin warrior. In order to become a Shaolin warrior he needed to train at a Shaolin temple and denied entry. For three days in front of the temple, Fang Lei demonstrates will and determination to the temple and gains entry. As the temple groundskeeper, he befriends Zhishou, a young student known for his laziness. Eventually, the past catches up with Fang Lei who happens to be on the run from Imperial Guards because he attacked the king of Chu. Long story short–the king of Chu’s guards catches up with Fang Lei at the Shaolin temple and has to defend the temple and thereby proving he is worthy of being a “Shaolin Warrior.” If the tale is not already cliche enough, it becomes downright macabre. The king of Chu ate Fang Lei’s sister–who was also one of the king’s concubines. Apparently, King Chu is stark raving mad and enjoys eating human flesh.
The fight choreography and scenes become progressively worse as the film rolls on. Red paint–or lipstick–smeared on the actors as blood and scars. In one, scene, the main character Lei goes ham on a giant rubber boulder. It is suppose to be a giant rock. For an intended “action drama,” Shaolin Warrior is much like a comedy.
Che sera sera.